An excerpt from “The 14 Eras” booklet by Iva May:
The Divided Kingdom Era
2 Kings, 2 Chronicles 10-36; Obadiah; Joel; Micah; Isaiah; Jonah; Amos; Hosea; Nahum; Zephaniah; Jeremiah; Habakkuk (Israel – 209 years; Judah – 345 years)
When Solomon became king in 971 BC, he spent the first seven years of his reign building God’s temple. Afterwards, he married foreign women, amassed wealth, built an army, and began to follow his wives’ idols instead of the living God. He violated the regulations regarding a king’s character that God had given Israel through Moses in the wilderness (Deut. 17). At the end of his reign, Jeroboam, one of Solomon’s generals, led a rebellion and then fled to Egypt. Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, became king. When the people asked him to reduce their taxes, he listened to the advice of his peers instead of the counsel of the old men. His threat to add to their burden created a mutinous situation. Jeroboam came back from Egypt and took advantage of the people’s anger, and ten tribes broke away from Rehoboam to follow him instead, dividing the kingdom into the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah.
To keep control of his ten tribes, Jeroboam established a new religion, based on the worship of idols he had brought from Egypt. He mixed idol worship with the worship of the true God. Using the feast days and sacrifices of Israel to worship idols, he established two places to worship these idols, and he established a priesthood not based on God’s law. Because Jeroboam led the people to worship idols, he fell under God’s curse, and his whole family died. Forever after, he was known as “Jeroboam, son of Nebat, who made Israel sin,” and his name became a mark of shame. Some families from each of the 10 tribes returned to the southern kingdom to worship the true God.
Nineteen kings ruled after Jeroboam in the Northern Kingdom of Israel; each king acted wickedly and worshiped idols. God sent the northern kingdom prophet after prophet (Elijah, Elisha, Hosea, Jonah, and Amos), who performed miracles and called people to turn from idols back to the living God. The people never returned to God; thus, God raised up the Assyrians against Israel and sent them into captivity away from their land in 722 BC. This captivity fulfilled the promises that God had made Israel in the Blessings and Cursings.
In the southern kingdom of Judah, the people followed God as long as they had a king who followed God and loved His Word. One of the kings of Judah, however, married a wicked princess from Israel, the daughter of Ahab and Jezebel, the most wicked king and queen from the north. This princess influenced the king and his people to follow idols, and God sent prophet after prophet (Micah, Isaiah, Nahum, Zephaniah, Jeremiah, Habakkuk) to call His people back to Him. These prophets prophesied of a righteous king from David’s line who would rule His people in righteousness and save His people from their sins. The prophet Jeremiah further prophesied that the nation of Judah’s sins would send them into captivity for seventy years, that the temple would be destroyed, and that they would serve their enemies. Instead of turning away from idols and to God, the people listened to the false prophets and continued in their sin. Jeremiah also prophesied of a time when God would write His law on people’s hearts, not just in the Books of the Law. Isaiah also prophesied of a coming Messiah.
What does the Divided-Kingdom Era reveal about God?
• God warns Israel about the ramifications of idolatry and disobedience through the Blessings and Curses given through Moses hundreds of years before they fall into sin.
• Major prophets speak for God in this era.
God withholds rain, destroys prophets of Baal, provides miraculously for Elijah, and does great miracles through Elisha as a rebuke to rebellious Israel.
God raises up nations to oppress Israel.
God sends prophets to call His people to repentance.
• Rulers use idol worship to bind people’s hearts to themselves.
• Good kings lead Israel to worship the true God, while evil kings lead Israel’s hearts away from God.
• God continues to pursue a relationship with Israel by sending prophets to urge His people to repent and turn to Him.